It was a place he had never visited, but it still felt like home. Skyscrapers, offices, busy workers walking in and out, the smell of business. Ushiromiya Krauss felt like he belonged here. Not to say he felt like he deserved a spot at Heaven – the Golden Land was more than enough for him – but it felt like an old sea dog feeling the salty wind on his face once more after retiring.
A bit of a shame he had to leave this exciting city behind for now and locate the house Will had directed him to. It took a bit of time and he even had to ask help from some of the other pedestrians, but eventually he found himself at the door of his child and their two partners. He knocked as the door lacked a bell.
“Coming!” a muffled voice yelled from the inside. In some seconds, the door was opened by Lion.
“Ah, Father! Welcome. I hope your trip here was pleasant” Lion gestured him to step inside.
“Hm, yes, thank you. The trains here are extremely fast. I knew I should have invested in railways when I had the chance.”
Krauss followed his child and closed the door behind him. The house was spacy and comfortable looking, with furnishing similar to the Ushiromiya mansion, yet still a little different. The most unorthodox design choice were the ubiquitous bookshelves. He was a reading man himself too, but this house could’ve functioned as a bookstore. Of course a shop functioning in a normal house in a heavenly suburb wouldn’t attract much customers, but still a novel business idea.
“I’ll go get Will and Clair. Make yourself at home, Father.”
Lion handed him a pair of slippers (dark red with a wing ornament) and helped him take his jacket off before rushing upstairs. Krauss had half-expected the house would have servants, but Lion had always been energetic enough to function without. In afterlife, the Ushiromiya Family pride barely factored into that calculation.
While waiting, he took a sip of the delicious black tea Lion had prepared. Thankfully the child hadn’t inherited their mother’s kitchen skills. Of course Natsuhi wasn’t BAD at cooking, but ‘without love, it can not be tasted’ was a good description for her food. Krauss himself was naturally outside this ranking, as he was a serious businessman and cooking wasn’t his job. And if he had read the room correctly, today was time for some serious business.
After a short while, the former detective and a pale woman in (very) light green dress appeared into the room, presumably by using the door. Krauss knew Will somewhat well, him being his child’s partner and frequently visiting the Golden Land, but this woman was almost a complete stranger. He did remember someone called ‘Clair’ once coming with Lion’s visit, but she had kept distance not really said anything. Even now, she was avoiding everyone’s gaze and almost hiding behind Will’s back.
Definitely not the type to include in business conversations, he thought. For multiple reasons.
“Hi there. Thanks for coming, should I- oww!” Will twisted his face in agony as Lion, who had followed the two back, pinched his butt.
“Some etiquette, please.”
“You can just say it, you know. But thanks for coming, Ushiromiya-san. I’m Will, as you probably remember. This is Clair. Clair, say hello.”
Clair shyly raised her hand and made a weak wave. “...hi, I’m Clair...”
He should have brought Rudolf to keep company for the lady. This would get uncomfortable very soon at this rate. Well, maybe he could sneak in a slightly larger consulting fee.
“Greetings. I am Ushiromiya Krauss, Lion’s father. You invited me to talk about something.”
“Yeah. I thought you were the best one to give this kind of advice, based on what I’ve heard about you.”
Please be financial advice. It can’t be repressed homosexuality. Please be financial advice.
“All positive, I hope. Please go on.”
“Well, I’m a retiree. I’ve had some savings, my retirement pay isn’t bad, and I’ve managed to invest somewhat, but... there was a crash.”
“Hoh, Heaven’s economy can crash too?”
“Don’t think about it too much, you’ll just get a headache.”
This sentence always came up when Will had talked with him. Usually it was about something completely deranged-sounding, so he didn’t mind, but now he really wanted to know more.
“Simply put, we’re almost broke. I thought of asking if you could help me with my investments.”
Angel Investor just got a new meaning in Krauss’s head. Poverty didn’t feel like a realistic threat in literal Heaven, but what did he know. Maybe they just did it for fun.
And who cared? He had done financial consulting already after entering the Golden Land, as well as funded Gaap’s fashion show. It had been a disaster and cost him thousands, but he had gotten a new vest for himself and some fun time with Natsuhi. He was Ushiromiya Krauss, a genius investor and a real estate legend. He'd be known as the trailblazer of space tourism in the future. He could definitely assist one retired angel to stay in the middle class, no matter how weird it sounded.
“...I understand. You turned to the right person, in that case. The barrier for entry to the Moon investing might be a little too high for you, but I happen to know a couple of completely safe projects looking for new investors.”
“Uhh... I’m not used to this stuff. I was thinking of just buying some stocks or something.”
Typical. No ambition or business sense at all. Well, not everyone could be Ushiromiya Krauss.
“I know what you mean, but the stock market is one big rollercoaster. In ordinary world already, you’re going to compete with people who have millions of investments and decades of experience, and I assume you angels are even tougher. Newer playing fields are much more friendlier for not so affluent buyers and newbies. No offense.”
Will raised his eyebrow, looking slightly curious (his amazing detective skills probably didn’t extend to economic talk).
“That... makes sense. Keep going, young santa. I’m all ears.”
Clair was sitting between Will and Lion, so the latter could only smile without a hint of passive-agressiveness after hearing that comment.
“I knew you’d get it quickly. So, the question is... have you heard of the blockchain?”
Rudolf dropped three ice cubes to his ale. The Ushiromiya brand required them to drink champagnes and similar expensive drinks in public, but he and his big brother usually went with more casual stuff when drinking together. It was still expensive ale, Krauss’s ego would have shattered with basic grocery store booze.
“Were they apes or lions, aniki?”
“Apes. He got two, and I decided to get three more. Amazing returns and no risk at all. A fantastic investment.”
“Damn. I guess I could try getting one as well. But I still don’t see the difference in just saving the image. I’ve bought paintings for less than what some of these things cost, and paintings are real .”
It was Krauss’s turn to sigh. Rudolf was smart and entertaining, but it was no surprise his businesses were in trouble with that mindset.
“Just forget it, I don’t seem to be able to convince you. But you will regret thinking that after the price jumps to the moon.”
“I’ll come to beg forgiveness from you then. But seriously, I thought you went to just see that Will guy. He’s hot.”
“And my child’s partner, so stop saying that. Besides, you know I promised to never again cheat on Natsuhi.”
“It’s not cheating if it’s consensual. And do you think she doesn’t know about that time just because she hasn’t mentioned?”
“She’s not that dumb, aniki. And she has aneki, so she has no room to complain. Someone like you should know to keep side businesses.”
“I’m not calling her dumb. She’s my wife and I love her. We’re just different.”
“You’re a real champion in creating synonyms for calling your wife stupid. I think the reason for your bisexuality is just you hating women so much.”
It was Natsuhi’s voice. As it was so distant, he didn’t bother to react and kept focusing on the guitar.
“Kanon-kun? Are you there?”
He sighed. Kanon was no servant anymore, so he had no obligation to obey her. Their relations were still a little cold, for a lack of better term, but Natsuhi was learning slowly. She had little problems with Jessie changing names anymore, and didn’t complain about the two dating. He decided to answer.
“Yes, madam. Is something wrong?”
The ‘madam’ was just a habit he hadn’t managed to drop. Natsuhi appeared from behind the corner, holding a picture of something. It looked like an animal, but hard to say from this distance.
“Ah, there you are. I apologize for bothering, but I need an outside opinion, if it’s alright.”
“Oh... sure. What can I help you with?”
Outside opinion? Natsuhi got new clothes or furnishings scarcely, and even then, Kanon felt like the last person whose opinion she’d ask.
“My husband gave me this. I’m sure it’s a wonderful gift, and he means well, but it looks slightly... odd for me. It makes my headache worsen as well.”
Natsuhi held out the strange picture. It featured an annoyed-looking picture of a monkey in a basic shirt and a sailor hat on its head. Natsuhi’s description was completely right. To put it simpler, the picture was ugly as sin.
“What do you think of it, Kanon-kun? I’m having a hard time to put my thoughts into words, if I can be honest...”
Kanon nodded, understanding. He held his arm in his usual style and gave a slight bow.
“Cringe, Madam, there’s no other word for it. It’s making me cringe, it’s embarrassing.”
Natsuhi gave an agreeing nod. She held her head in both hands as a yell could be heard from Krauss’s room.
“I’ve been hacked! All my apes are gone!”